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CNY woman opens up about her battle with prescription drug abuse

For a young Central New York woman, her struggle with oxycodone slowly spiraled into an addiction.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- Prescription drug abuse claims thousands of lives every year. Now, doctors in New York have to comply with strict new rules when prescribing painkillers.

For a young Central New York woman, her struggle with oxycodone slowly spiraled into an addiction.

29-year-old Julie Santorelli was injured at work. Her doctor prescribed oxycodone to help cope with the pain.

Santorelli slowly became hooked and says she was living in a fog, but she couldn’t stop taking the pills.

“I want my life back so bad,” Santorelli told NewsChannel 9. “It’s just a scary thing because you don’t realize when you start taking it how bad it can get…how bad your body will need it and how addictive it is.”

Three years later, Santorelli found the strength and courage to get help. She decided to enroll in Upstate’s Addiction Medicine program. Doctor Brian Johnson helps treat and detox patients daily. He says 60 percent of overdose deaths are caused by Opioids, and many times those pills come from doctors.

“You’re not the same person. I’m physically there, but mentally not. What the Opioids do is sort of numb you, physically and emotionally,” Santorelli continued.

“The change in opioid pill prescribing is astonishing. The amount of Opioids prescribed is roughly three times as high as it was 15 years ago,” said Dr. Johnson. “There are more prescription overdose deaths in the United States not than motor vehicle deaths. It’s a terrible problem.”

For Santorelli, it’s a problem that’s now in the past. She fought through withdrawal and has been off oxycodone for weeks and will continue counseling.

Dr. Johnson says the state’s new I-Stop law is a step in the right direction. It limits the amount of painkillers a doctor can prescribe to you in an effort to curb prescription drug abuse.

For more information on Upstate’s Addiction Medicine program and how to get help for your addiction, CLICK HERE.

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